Kyle Langenbach

Review - "Phantom Thread"

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After seeing Lady Bird's 99% and now Phantom's 91%, I'm now officially concerned about the legitimacy of RT's rating system. There is just no way to match those to reality.

I'll first just say that Day Lewis is in my top 5 actors of all time. He completely transforms into his characters and he always brings it hard.

While he is truly convincing again as usual, the script just wasn't very good. For example, the first real conflict didn't come until an hour into the film. I don't need explosions and gunfire every minute, and I very much appreciate a slow burn to a story, but conflict is the heart of drama. If you are waiting that long you know there is a problem. 

And then when that conflict happens, you think, ok, that was a bit out of left field but I can go with it. It is PTA after all. Except, it doesn't go anywhere. Vicky Krieps is fantastic - she goes toe to toe with Lewis and it works on that level - but the dialog meanders and the tension doesn't keep ratcheting up. Krieps obsession with Lewis went both too far and not far enough (if that makes sense). The potential was there but it was poorly executed.

A big issue for me is the climax. It makes NO sense on the part of Lewis' character. Don't want to spoil it, but his reaction to her last action makes NO sense. So all the meandering leads to a conclusion that felt illogical and unearned.

In fact it felt like PTA suddenly realized he had to end this story and jammed the last 10 min in to get some kind of resolution. It just wasn't cohesive at all. Sure it's PTA and I get his brand of eccentricity, but unlike his great films like There Will Be Blood (also starring Lewis), Boogie Nights and Magnolia, this film simmered but never boiled.

Lesley Manville also puts in a great performance as Lewis' business partner, although we don't get into her backstory to know why or who she is, or her motivations. We just have to take what she is now on face value. She is a supporting character so that's somewhat understandable when you are pressed for time, but this story had tons of room to flesh her out to a more fulfilling arc.

Overall the acting - as in Lady Bird - was very, very good. I suppose that is what is carrying these films to get the high ratings. But at some point the rest of the film has to be interesting as well and this one was just full of threads that went nowhere. Hence the title is quite apropos.

Grade: C

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